Five hounds were stolen in a break-in at a kennel last night.
The theft from Westerby Basset Hounds in South Kilworth, near Lutterworth, happened less than a week after a raid at a kennel in nearby North Kilworth.
The five stolen animals were all members of the only pack of working English basset hounds in the county. They are regularly seen exercising and following trails around Leicestershire.
Kennel huntsman Sophie Cripps said: “It’s truly devastating for everyone involved and we urge as many people as possible to raise awareness and help us to bring these hounds back home to our kennels with the rest of the pack.”
She said the theft had left kennel staff devastated.
All the hounds are microchipped.
Within hours of the theft, an appeal, published by the Countryside Alliance, had been shared nearly 2,000 times on Facebook.
Polly Portwin, a spokeswoman for the Countryside Alliance, said: “This is incredibly sad news. These are working basset hounds that are part of a pack, and the perpetrators of this evil crime must be brought to justice and the hounds returned home swiftly.
“This latest theft is sadly one of a number of recent thefts of dogs and working breeds that we are witnessing across the country.
“We urge all dog owners to be incredibly vigilant in our ongoing fight against these criminals.”
Animal Search, a search service for missing pets in the UK, said there had been a noticeable rise in the number of people reporting dog thefts in recent months.
A spokesman said: “There has been a huge rise in dog thefts reported to us here at Animal Search UK.
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“Demand has skyrocketed because of lockdown, where people now have more time to spend with their new pets and train them.”
Last week’s theft from North Kilworth happened at a boarding kennel for pets. Logan, a three-year-old cockapoo, was taken while his owner, 68-year-old Liz White, was recovering at home following surgery.
The police managed to find him using their aerial drone after a sighting near Coalville and he is safe back home with Liz.
The Countryside Alliance has issued advice for working dog and dog theft prevention, which can be found on its website, www.countryside-alliance.org.